Cerro de la Muerte: Costa Rica’s Highest Peak

Cerro de la Muerte otherwise called as Mountain of Death is known to be the highest point of Costa Rica in the Interamerican Highway. Rising from 5,000 to 11,500 feet in the stretch of San Isidro del General, Cerro de la Muerte presents itself as an astounding part of what is known to be the world’s longest motorable road.

More than its historical name, Cerro de la Muerte has gone far from just being associated with the early deaths in this point of the highway.



San Isidro del General is part of San Jose province and a hundred years ago, there wasn’t any highways or any kind of road for that matter. It used to be a place where people lived on raised and locally collected rice, fruits and vegetables, coffee, sugar cane, corns, pigs and dairy cattle. But as for their utensils, tools and clothing, these people relied solely on trading with San Jose.

This trade entailed shoeless men to carry 100 to 150 pounds of blackberries, rice and corn on their backs as well as herd their pigs and cattle for an entire month. Once they’ve reached the end of their journey, they make their way back to San Isidro for another month of barefoot walking.

They brave the mountains of Costa Rica crossing the Central Valley of Costa Rica. Once they’ve reached the most feared spot now called the Cerro de la Muerte, they experienced the coldest and most treacherous temperature many have died of. If they did not die of hypothermia, what kills them later on is pneumonia.

Today, the Mountain of Death is easily accessible thanks to the Interamerican Highway but to this day, its rich history is far from being forgotten.



Cerro de la Muerte is the highest tip in this side of Costa Rica that’s why it can get excruciatingly cold (below freezing point) but can get very hot as well once the sun rises–which can even cause you sun burns if you’re not wary about bringing sun blocks.


Cerro de la Muerte Today

One fascinating thing about the trees in this part of Costa Rica is that they aren’t astoundingly tall but its vegetation is thick and luscious. This miniaturized flora has mostly been associated with myths of leprechauns and dwarves. Hikers, explorers and even those driving by get to enjoy this rich greenery and panoramic views of the mountains.

The wildlife here isn’t abundant because of its rough and rocky terrain. There are only occasional sightings of lizards and insects and a few other animals.

Bird-watching is now a famous activity in Cerro de la Muerte. Because of its high elevation, several bird species such as the Volcano Junco, breeds of hummingbirds (Black-bellied, Volcano, Mountain-gem, etc.) can be spotted hovering around the area and the very popular Quetzal.

Trout-fishing and horseback riding are couple of other things you can do around the area.

Going beyond its name and into how it is now, Mountain of Death continues to be of the most sought-after place for drivers and visitors of the Interamerican Highway. Although its unsafe conditions and alarming temperature still alert those who come by, Cerro de la Muerte has much more to offer now than a frightening past.


Getting There 

Take Avenida Central towards Cartago. Stay on the PanAmerican Highway and follow the signs for Panama. By bus, take the San Isidro del General bus which departs from the Coca-Cola bus station.



Places to Stay Near Cerro de la Muerte 

The Savegre Mountain Hotel

Trogón Lodge

El Toucanet

Talari Mountain Lodge


Comments are closed.